Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ



Jul 28, 2014
This week's theme
Words that have changed with time

This week's words
harbinger

Add your 2 cents
to our discussion on language and words. Or, if you wish, use paise, pence, yen, pesos, piasters, etc. Log on at our discussion forum
Wordsmith Talk
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

The linguist Ferdinand de Saussure once said, "Time changes all things: there is no reason why language should escape this universal law."

A living language, just like humans, adapts with time. All words change, some more than others. In the beginning, to broadcast was to sow seeds by scattering, a diaper was a kind of fabric, and a matrix was a womb.

This week we'll see a few more words that ain't what they used to be.

harbinger

PRONUNCIATION:
(HAHR-bin-juhr)

MEANING:
noun: One that foreshadows the approach of something.
verb tr.: To signal the arrival of something.

ETYMOLOGY:
Originally, a harbinger was a host, a person who provided lodging. With time the sense changed to a person sent in advance to find lodging for an army. From Old French herbergier (to provide lodging for), from herberge (lodging). Ultimately from the Indo-European root koro- (war, host, army) which also gave us harbor, herald, harness, hurry, harangue, and harry. Earliest documented use: 1175.

USAGE:
"It is hard to elude the suspicion that it is a harbinger of further things to come."
Colby Cosh; Trigger Warnings are Easy to Ridicule; Maclean's (Toronto, Canada); Jun 2, 2014.

See more usage examples of harbinger in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
We are social creatures to the inmost centre of our being. The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong. -Karl Popper, philosopher and a professor (1902-1994)

A.Word.A.Day by email:

Subscribe

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace."

The New York Times

Sponsored by:

Give the Gift of Words

Share the magic of words. Send a gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day.

Anu on Words:
Writer Magazine
Globe & Mail

Interact:

Bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk

Moderated Chat
Wordsmith Chat

Readers' Voice
AWADmail

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 2014 Wordsmith